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Why should I have an early war?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Spav, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Spav

    Spav Chieftain

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    I'm a newbie playing at Warlord level at the moment. I've seen several people here mention about going to war early. Why would you do that?

    Assuming the default conditions of continents and 6 civs as opponents, it seems unlikely that you could destroy them all, so what is the advantage?

    Room to expand? Capturing new cities to save making your own? What?

    If you're building military units, you're not building libraries, etc to increase your research, so aren't you risking falling behind in the tech race?

    I think I'm a pacifist builder at heart, so maybe I'm just not looking at it from the warmonger's POV.

    Your comments please.
     
  2. Perfect_Blue

    Perfect_Blue Yume Senshi

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    Early war can mean early victory with the right units and/or map. Even if you don't/can't take down all your foes, you'll usually get at least one or two (at the least), which also means another awesome city right in the beginning, since capitals usually have pretty good starting positions. And if you start next to someone with mysticism, you can wait till they found one of the first religions then nab the holy city/capital.

    Of course, I like picking at my enemies too, if I can't crush them outright. You can get good coin in raiding, grab a worker or two, and seriously hamper your opponents early game economy, crippling them.

    There can be lots of reasons to go to war early. Maybe they just smell funny...Any reason, whatever works ;)
     
  3. Mutineer

    Mutineer Deity

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    Main reason that one of big human advantages compare to AI is human ability to plan and wage war. In short you will be exploting AI weakness.
     
  4. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

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    I'm a builder, so take my answers with a wife of salt.

    The best city sites are capitals - on many maps, not only are the starting positions chosen from the best available, but they may also be "improved" from their random start. For example:



    The shape of the ice surrounding the city makes it clear that the plot was chosen, and then the ice was replaced with useful tiles.

    In effect, capturing this city early doubled the productivity of my civ (my capital was about as good, but my two settled cities weren't close to this).

    Perhaps a little, though not too much, really. In the opening, most of your commerce is located at your capital (8 from the palace alone). Your other cities, being smaller and having less commerce, may not need a library yet - it's a matter of priorities.

    But the opposite is also true - if you are building libraries, monasteries, and kitchen sinks, you aren't building units. And more to the point you aren't using units. Which means that you aren't earning elite units.

    And elite units can't be built. Not in the opening. Man can only get so far on bears alone.

    If you want the security of three promotion archers guarding your border cities, and three promotion spearmen that can protect iron mines from pillaging horsemen, if you want catapults that can reduce attacking stacks to rubble without being lost, and long bows that can stand up to cavalry, you've almost got to be picking fights.

    Furthermore, as you go up in difficulty, it gets harder to build all the magic goodies. So if you were really counting on having the Great Library, you need to go take it from somebody - elite units from an earlier war are a really big help.

    Plus the fact that some neighbors are quite simply excuse for war, simply by being next door to you. So you might as well choose the time and place that works to your advantage.

    Recommended reading: Buildaholics Anonymous.
     
  5. CaptainEO

    CaptainEO Chieftain

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    The point of early war isn't necessarily to win by total conquest. It just gives you a little extra advantage.

    For instance, with 4 civs on a fair map, each civ will end up controlling about 25% of the land: 25/25/25/25. But if you go to war and conquer just one civ, you'll have 50% versus 25% for the remaining two civs. That's a huge long-term advantage. You could end up with almost twice the commerce as your opponents, and thus almost twice the tech rate.

    On higher levels (above Noble), war becomes vital, because if you leave the AIs alone, they will always outpace you due to all the bonuses they get.
     
  6. Yzman

    Yzman Deity

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    I think the biggest thing it is that you are playing on warlord and can't appreciate the early war yet. On warlord you really don't need it, on higher difficulties an early war is nice to show the rapid AI growth.
     
  7. Mr. Civtastic

    Mr. Civtastic Prince

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    My best games are from early wars. They cripple your neighbors, give you cities without building settlers, and strong upgraded forces for defense against other civs.
     
  8. majk-iii

    majk-iii Eeh?

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    It's not always that you can manage to take out a civ early in the game, but even so; early wars can still be profitable.
    I mostly go after my closest neighbour after scouting for strategical defence-positions and building a couple of warriors... if i'm not sure that i can take them out i wait until they've built their first workers... whom i then proceed to snatch. Sometimes i snatch the starting-workers from two neigbours at once.
    Then i move in my warriors on forest/hill-tiles inside their lands and fortify them there... only sending reinforcements if needed.

    So, what do i get out of this? ...first i don't have to build workers... only workboats and warriors. Second my neighbours will not be able to refine their lands, while my capital will get hooked up even sooner then it would have been if i would have built my own workers.
    (Did i say i mostly play small/tiny maps with lots of civs?)
    I will therefore be way ahead of my closest neighbours from start, so it will be easier to take them out when stronger units appear.
     
  9. StrideCollosus

    StrideCollosus Chieftain

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    All of the previous posts contain solid wisdom.

    But there's another aspect to an early war that doesn't have to mean wiping out another neighbouring civ - it's a lot cheaper (and certainly more fun) to take over someone else's city rather than build you own.

    Settlers are expensive to produce and prevent your developing cities from growing and/or require forest chopping to keep you in the race. Not only that you get money from taking cities. And you're crippling a potential rival (although you could also be crippling a potential ally as well!)

    In particular, as a previous poster pointed out - nicking someone elses capital gives you a huge advantage in the early game, especially if they've founded a religion and/or built an early wonder.
     
  10. swinenston

    swinenston Chieftain

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    Agree with most of these comments, though I'm not entirely convinced an early war is 'cheaper' than building your own cities. It is expensive to wage a war, mainly because you are shifting your focus to building units and, hence not general city improvements and settlers of your own.

    I think on the level you are on, you are right in that it doesn't matter so much. You have a huge advantage over the AI players. You should always win by space race. But as you go up in difficulty you find an early war is often something you just can't avoid. The AI builds quicker, expands quicker, gobbles what should be your land quicker! Not only this, you are often in a much more weakened starting position than them, unit wise, so they think you are an easy target. More often than not they will attack you.

    That said, there are advantages. You can, at the very least, slow down your opponents, possibly grab a city or two and generally pillage some loot. You can free up more land for your own land rush which can be vital as you expand. If you're lucky, you might even wipe out a foe.

    I would say you are in a perfect position to wage war at the level you are on. It may take getting used to, but should become easier with the level advantage you have. This knowledge can leave you in good stead for higher levels when you have no choice but to fight for your Civ.
     
  11. Spav

    Spav Chieftain

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    My thanks to everyone for their advice and comments so far. :goodjob:

    This has given me a lot to think about as I move up in difficulty levels.

    @VoiceOfUnreason - thanks for the link to the Buildaholics Anonymous thread. There was some very good advice in there that I missed when I scanned the forum for relevant topics.
     
  12. senwiz

    senwiz Prince

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    The major reason I have found for an early war....Taking out your worst rival. Trust that there will be one, and they are right next door. I, usually, find Alex or Monty at my doorstep. You can keep one of them happy, but you won't keep them both happy. Both of those are warmongering civs. If you can take one out early...You can, usually, keep the other one at bay, or make a friend of him.

    Theodore Roosevelt said, "Walk softly and carry a big stick." In this game....That is almost prime directive as you get up in difficulty. :)
     
  13. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    Early war allows you to conquer your enemy before they build up solid defenses.
     
  14. voek

    voek Prince

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    There are not that many (usefull) buildings to build that early anyway. When you have built a granary and later on a library, it takes time to get marketplaces and courthouses. Building workers and settlers is expensive and keeps you from growing. Getting them 'for free' is not to bad. You need units anyway to defend yourself against barbs and to be not invaded yourself.
     
  15. Crighton

    Crighton Emperor

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    The earlier you crush/cripple your opponenets the more breathing room you get for yourself down the road, it lets you be the builder you want to be rather than the builder you have to be.
     
  16. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    One other thing is on the 'default' position an early war can help get your own continent, which means you can cut back on military for a more rapid development of that continent.
     
  17. swinenston

    swinenston Chieftain

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    I certainly take your point about the city not growing during build time for settlers and workers, but you don't have to build loads of them and you certainly should not be building scores of them straight away anyway (clearly this would hinder your economy). But cost wise, I still stand by my statement. There is a trade-off. An army still costs more to build than a few settlers and workers. For example a settler is 100 shields to build; a swordsman is 40 (for base costs). The point is, how many swordsmen would you need? You could use simple formula of 1 settler (and new city) = 2 swordsmen. So the issue is can you take a new city with all it's improvements for 2 swordsmen. I would suggest if it is well developed (and def worthy of taking) then it would require a lot more than just 2, possibly 5 or 6, depending on defensive units. Then of course, we must factor in that, whilst at war, you need to keep units in your own cities in case you are attacked, probably more so than if you were not at war. There is no doubt in my mind, a war is expensive. However, the benefits can easily outweigh this cost, as discussed in this thread.
     
  18. Yzen Danek

    Yzen Danek Warlord

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    A lot of good reasons given so far. Additional reasons:

    To control a religion's holy city without having to research religious techs.

    To control wonders without having to build them.
     
  19. maltz

    maltz King

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    Since I get addicted to wars, I now run into a serious problem that my games lasted too short. :p Now I can't even see infantry.

    Perhaps I should go with a continent map, this way I can't expand that much before astronomy. :cool:
     
  20. Wreck

    Wreck Prince

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    The main thing about war is that it can be very cost effective. It is quite possible to wage a war losing very few units. So, one way to expand might be to build 3 settlers, and 3 more workers, and build some cities yourself. Then you have to wait a bit while they grow pop, develop terrain, etc. And you have to build at least minimal garrison forces in any case.

    On the other hand, consider taking those cities from an AI. You take the same 480 resources you'd otherwise use for the settlers/workers, and buy a spearman, an axeman, 5 catapults, and 5 swordsmen. This stack o' doom romps through an AI with 3 cities, taking them all, losing a catapult on each city (for the collateral damage), and maybe a swordsman.

    Now, you're left in a better situation. First, you've still got most of the army left. So, you don't need to build garrison units for the 3 new cities.

    Second, you've got units with experience. Without trying at all, you'll have a swordsman w/ 10 experience (meaning you can now build the Heroic Epic). If you were careful, you'll have a unit with 17 experience (meaning you can buy West Point later when it becomes available). Experience is also good for later conquest, of course, as you should carefully preserve your city-raiders, turning them into Macemen, then Riflemen, etc.

    Finally, the cities which you capture are often better than what you build yourself. (They can be worse, too - the AI rarely builds exactly where I'd prefer. But if they are too bad, you raze them.) You can capture capital-sites, as mentioned above, that are easily superior city-sites to anything you'll find. You can capture pop already grown, meaning no time after the unrest ends that a city is in the red. You get terrain already developed. And you often capture intact some of the city improvements that the AI has paid for.
     

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